You have the perfect Derby outfit, now here’s some great tips (in no particular order) from a couple of seasoned attendees.
1. Wear comfortable shoes. If you purchase new shoes for the track, make sure to break them in before the big day. Wear them around the house in your underwear if you like; we don’t judge. Insoles are a great addition. If you are wearing heels, stuff a pair of flip flops or flats in your purse. I promise, you will thank us later.
2. Bring cash. As they say, cash is king and also helps keep you accountable. Determine your budget for the day and bring only that amount in cash. Also bring a credit card in case of emergencies, and no…the 10th Mint Julep is not an emergency. Stick to your budget when eating, drinking and betting.
3. Eat before you head to the track. The track doesn’t have great options for food, so grab brunch at one of our many fine local establishments ahead of time. If you plan to drink, eat a meal with some sustenance and drink plenty of water.
4. Plan your Driving Route and Parking. There are many different ways to get down to the track and many different parking options. The Kentucky Derby website provides general directions here. Below is a map (courtesy of Churchill Downs) of the parking locations around the track. If you park outside of the designated parking areas, be prepared to walk (another reminder to wear comfortable shoes).
5. Purchase a program. The programs not only tell you what horses are racing, but also provide helpful betting tips. These are well worth the money. And don’t forget to throw a pen or pencil in your bag to mark down your picks.
6. Bring toilet paper. I put this in the Thunder Over Louisville post as well, but always a good tip, no matter what the occasion. Throw some extra toilet paper in your purse just in case, because you never know when you might need it.
7. Pack food for the track. Churchill downs allows folks to bring food to the track as long as food items are in clear plastic bags (max size 18″ x 18″). Have fun with this, treat it like a picnic. Finger foods work best and pimento sandwiches are always a local favorite. Click here to view a full list of permitted and non-permitted items.
8. Pick a designated driver or arrange for transportation. We all know this, but there is nothing wrong with a little reminder. Do not drink and drive. There are plenty of options if you or someone in your party does not want to be the DD. Public transportation TARC (offering free rides after 6 pm this Friday), Miller Transportation, Shuttles (prices vary by location), Yellow Cab, or if you really want to ride in style, R & R Limousine. Again plan ahead for transportation, 100,000+ people will also be looking for transportation after the races.
9. Plan for changes in weather. When I first moved here, a local told me “don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes”. Here in Louisville the weather can change at a moments notice so it’s best to be prepared for rain or shine. Bring an umbrella, sunglasses, sunscreen and large clear plastic bag to protect your hat or fascinator in case it rains.
10. Visit the infield. Purchase a general admission ticket and you’ll have access to the paddock area, Gate 10 corridor and infield. The tamer, family-friendly section of the infield is on the first turn (to the right as you head out of the tunnel). If you are up for a real adventure, head to the final turn where there is some serious partying going on.
If you have any tips or recommendations, please share them with us! Happy Derby!